What is Cupping?
While most people have a general idea of what acupuncture is, cupping still remains a mystery to most. There’s no denying that once Olympian Michael Phelps showed up to the 2016 Summer Games covered in round bruises, google searches for cupping surged. There’s a general curiosity around why someone would get cupping and what it can do for you.
Cupping is one of the oldest forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in fact, the earliest form of cupping dates back to the 4th century. Cupping is essentially the reverse of a massage where instead of pushing down on the muscles and tissues, the cups create a suction to pull the muscles up into the cups, releasing the tight fascia underneath the layer of muscle.
Does it hurt?
There are different styles of cupping. Sometimes the cups are firmly placed on the back where they will remain for about 10-15 minutes. Most people feel tightness but no pain and once they cups are removed the muscles feel much more relaxed. Another style of cupping is called sliding cupping. With sliding cupping, oil is applied to the skin and the cups are put on slightly looser than with stationary cupping and are then slowly slid around the back. The amount of intensity is individually determined by the practitioner to adjust to the patient’s comfort level.
What does it help with?
The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone.